About Me

I'm somewhat introverted, I'm a voracious reader, and I love a good conversation. My interests and activities can be found on the right side of the page. My life goal is to use the gifts and talents God has bestowed on me to glorify Him and benefit others.

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolution

I kill myself every time
That I look away from You
I often gaze upon a moment
Inside the scars re-open
Bleeding again
Then I find
It's at my request!!!
Freely given and we choose
The choice to lose
(As these scars are screaming in pain)
Just have we chosen poorly
Could this be our chance to see
That we need You?
Instead of following our means
Right now, you my audience are probably wondering what the heck prompted me to start this post off with the song lyrics. Well, first I'll tell ya a little bit about the band, then explain my reason for including their lyrics.
Staple is one of my fave bands right now. Though they unfortunately broke up not too long ago, their music lives on. For those Christians out there who, like me, have long craved a quality alternative to mainstream hard rock bands Korn and Slipknot, these guys are the real deal. Theirs is a unique brand of hard music, with heavier guitars than TFK, Pillar, or P.O.D., with a striking similarity to the revolutionary, incredibly unprecedented heavy guitars of Korn, paired with a strong vocalist not afraid to scream his lungs out one moment, then transition to hauntingly smooth vocals the next.
What separates these guys from thier mainstream counterparts, of course, is their lyrics. They're not afraid to venture into dark areas often left untouched by contemporary Christian music, such as lust, bitterness, and loneliness, you know, the real issues that real people deal with. They also aren't afraid to run to God for help.
And now we get to the point of this post. As I mentioned in the preceding post, I've felt very ineffective in my Christian walk lately. More accurately, I've felt crummy for trying to point my friends away from their destructive habits, like I'm acting like their parents or something and they don't wanna hear it. But tonight, through a conversation with my parents, I came to realize that that's price for going against the crowd, or more specifically, being a follower of Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
-Matthew 5:11-12
I'm not gonna lie, internally I've had a horrible last couple of months. I've felt more lonely than I ever have in my life, like I hit rock bottom. I've felt totally worthless and ineffective, as nearly all of my old Christian friends fall into temptations and bad habits, not caring for anything but the moment. My good-intentioned, gentle reprimands were always met with laughter and scorn, and people I thought I knew turned around and walked away from their principles, apparently not realizing how much I cared, and still care for, these old friends of mine.
I know, it' so easy for people who haven't experienced the horrible ache of a "rock-bottom experience" to say that God is just "using that time to bring you closer to Him," but honestly that has been a result of my ordeal.
For the first time since I started fighting this battle, I feel a clear sense of purpose, of God telling me to just seek His will, not caring for the thoughts of others who could care less.
During this trial, He's given me two very special blessings: 1) My amazing girlfriend Vanessa, and 2) a sizable group of potential friends who aren't afraid to let their faith impact the people and the world around them.
Alright, now I gotta brag on my girlfriend. My intention is not to torture you singles out there, but to let you know that even as you might feel crummy without a boyfriend or girlfriend, waiting for the right one truly IS WORTH IT.
In the past eight months that we've been together, she has been such an encouragement to me, words don't even cover it. Right before we met, I was dealing with a lot of rejection and hurt, and then God brought us together. To make a long story short, we've been together eight months and I just am so happy to have the privilege of knowing such an amazing woman, as well as being her boyfriend.
I admire many different things about her, but one of them at the top of my list is the infectiousness of her faith in God. Every time we hang out, she encourages me to dig deeper in God's word, and stay connected to Him. She not only does this with her words, but in the way she dresses, as well as how she behaves.
Guys, when you find a woman like this, don't you dare let her get away!!!
A woman who posseses these qualities is "worth far more than rubies." Now, I know a lot of you guys have heard this verse and are rolling your eyes, thinking, "Yeah, but if God wanted me to behave that way, then why in the world did he make me 1% tender and 99% hormone-crazed?!?!" Well, unfortunately,I don't have the answer to that question any more than any of you, but I do know that having a girlfriend who is dedicated to helping you keep a pue mindset is essential to staying pure. You may think "Yeah, but put the nice, goody-two-shoes Christian chick and the drop-dead grogeous, swimsuit model/cheerleader/babe-of-the-year type in front of me, and it's safe to say I won't choose the former." Well, let me just tell you this: that girl who struts her stuff all over school may seem awesome now, but just wait. Think about her sixty years from now. I'm really sorry for those who will now be haunted with nightmares about their girlfriends instead of daydreams, but seriously, in sixty years will she be worth it, when that oh-so-incredible bod makes your wrinkly Aunt Thelma look like Miss America?!?!
Thing is, going into "every man's battle" with a girl who presses you to give up your innocence is like taking your worst enemy into war as backup. Sooner or later you're gonna get stabbed in the back. If all the girl is after is immediate gratification, then what happens when Mr. Teenage Studmaster comes along?
Make sure the girl you're with has your best interests in mind in the area of purity.
Most importantly, make sure that she shares your beliefs. It makes it so much easier to make it through when the going gets tough. It's been eight months, and Vanessa and I haven't so much as yelled at each other yet! "Honesty and openess are key," a friend once told me. It's true!!!
The little things that this woman does (listening when I'm down, packing me a lunch, hanging out with me, listening to me drone on about the awesomeness of the TV show LOST, or the fatal flaws of socialist thinking, or the brilliant military strategy of Sun Tzu, or scores other topics that normal people find incredibly fascinating ;-)- just amaze me. And when we hang out together, the wya that she compliments me makes me feel like a superhero!!! Half the time I don't feel like I deserve such an incredible person as a girlfriend, and I thank God all the time for her.
My point in bringing Vanessa up is that everyone needs a close friend, whether it's their girlfriend or not is irrelevant. There are people out there that feel like zeros, like just one person in a sea of faces, like they can't go on another day. I know; I've been there. But you can simply call out to God and ask for Him to direct your life, and He will. You might have to experience pain first, but He will bring you to a place of dependence on Him. A member of my old Aikido club had a saying that I thought was cool: "You need the fire to make the sword." In other words, hard times make you stronger; they help you build spiritual muscle to defend against the attacks of the evil one. So, no matter how hard things might seem right now, no matter how bleak and hopeless the situation, make your New Year's resolution to live your life for Jesus and "God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." -Phillipians 4:19
God Bless and Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Walk the Walk, Don't just Talk the Talk!

Wazzup party people. Been a while. But now I have time to write, since I'm on Break. ;-)-

Last night me and my bro stayed out 'til 2:00 in the morning. We saw I Am Legend, ate out, visited one of our friends wo was working, and played Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (which trumps Halo 3 in every way possible) well into the wee hours of the morning with our friend Tyler. It was fun. I was able to get through the night with the aid of Full Throttle (an energy drink which is a lot better than Monster or RockStar-it tastes like juiced gummy bears!!! And it's good for you, too. Heh heh, J/K) But I stayed awake! ;-)-

As cool as it was, I was still a little troubled. My friends all seem to have dropped their principles by the wayside. Sex jokes, immorality, and ungodliness permeate all conversations and subject matter. Not that I've never laughed at a bad joke, but I'm sincerely trying to "be an imitator of God," and "live a life of love," just as God commands us in Ephesians 5.
This passage goes on to say, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light...and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them."

I believe that the church at large (at least, what I've experienced) has neglected passages of this kind. Why? Perhaps because they're comfortable giving the same feel-good sermons every week, preaching to a congregation that's grown up on these kind of messages.

In my mind, messages of this kind do little good in helping Christians be effective witnesses in the world around them. Many of my friends who have grown up in these environments seem to take up a seat every Sunday, and then go about their week just as any non-believer would.
Christians have to some degree "created their own ghettos." They put on their masks on Sunday, then remove them the rest of the week.

I think the tragic truth is that many of these kids see the Christian life as a subculture of sorts. You know, Christian concerts, Christian movies, WWJD bracelets, the like. None of these are bad things, they just need not be the extent of the faith of Christian young men and women.

Many of my Christian friends (I won't name names) are sleeping around, drinking, etc., with no thought whatsoever towards the wrongfulness of these actions. I just don't like seeing them doing those sorts of things to themselves. It's not my intention AT ALL to merely point out others faults for the sake of seeming "Holier-than-Thou." These actions bother me.

I've tried to follow Galatians 6:1 "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him GENTLY." I feel strongly, though, that I'm not having much of an impact.
It's like my friends see me as some goody-two-shoes or something. I'm routinely, directly excluded from conversations. Like last night, my brother and my friend told me I had to stand back over here while they had a conversation in low voices over there. When I asked my brother why that was later on, he said because it was a personal thing of my friends. Uh, if it's personal, then how come this friend talked to my brother about it? No, the truth is that they were talking about something that this friend and my brother didn't feel comfortable sharing with me. This happens a lot, and it's honestly annoying. I'm not the type to go "tell" on people (I mean even if I was, I'm eighteen, you think I would have outgrown that habit by now!!!), so what gives???

I'm routinely excluded from conversations and gatherings b/c my friends know I would have a problem with watching a gory slasher or sexually immoral movie or because I don't approve of their nasty jokes. The only people who I feel truly want me around are my girlfriend and my friend Joel. The rest invite me to parties occasionally, but everytime I've gone to one I've felt very ignored except for a few isolated instances, so I thought "forget that" and just stopped going.

I'm really trying to be a good witness and walk the walk as well as talk the talk, but I feel as if I'm having zero influence.

People always tell me that people's opinion doesn't matter, and I know it doesn't in the big picture, but most of the time I don't think these people know what it means to feel rejected by almost all of your old friends. Are people afraid I'm going to bite their heads off or something? I feel like a total reject. Does anyone agree? Can I get an amen here? The last several months I've been battling dark thoughts and feelings of worthlessness. I'm having real troube with this, as more and more of my friends backslide into bad choices and I feel ineffective because of it. Though I won't stop praying and caring about these friends, I'm in need of friends that share my views. Pray for me that I can GET UP THE NERVE to give these people a call, and stop having depreciating thoughts about myself.

The following song has helped me greatly through these thoughts, reminding me to keep holding on. It's by 38th parallel, a now non-existent Christian alternative rock band that never got near the amount of recognition they deserved:

Days grow long and the days grow dark and the days grow ever colder
The trust that I started with frays as I get older
The road is hard it seems to me there is no way around this
From all You've done for me I know you'll never break your promise
So you're at the end of this day
Where the world is shaded in gray
I will look to blue horizons
And watch for You to come
When my hope is tattered and torn
When my faith is weathered and worn
I look to the blue horizons
(Whatever you say, have me go I'll go, whatever you say, I'll go)
I look to the blue horizons
38th parallel, "Horizon"
Please continue to pray for me as I strive to "fight the good fight." God Bless.